Science, Tech, Math › Science Ingredients in Coke and Their Function What's Really in Coca Cola? Share Flipboard Email Print Did you know Coke still contains an extract from the coca plant?. Jesus Ayala, Getty Images Science Chemistry Basics Chemical Laws Molecules Periodic Table Projects & Experiments Scientific Method Biochemistry Physical Chemistry Medical Chemistry Chemistry In Everyday Life Famous Chemists Activities for Kids Abbreviations & Acronyms Biology Physics Geology Astronomy Weather & Climate By Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D. Chemistry Expert Ph.D., Biomedical Sciences, University of Tennessee at Knoxville B.A., Physics and Mathematics, Hastings College Dr. Helmenstine holds a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences and is a science writer, educator, and consultant. She has taught science courses at the high school, college, and graduate levels. our editorial process Facebook Facebook Twitter Twitter Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D. Updated July 10, 2019 You probably know that once upon a time Coca-Cola or Coke contained cocaine. What you might not know is that the beverage is still flavored with an extract from the coca leaf and that the cocaine which is extracted from the leaves is sold for medicinal use. The Stepan Company extracts cocaine from the coca leaves, which is sold to Mallinckrodt, the only US company that is licensed to purify cocaine. So... what are the other ingredients in Coke and what do they do? Coke contains a fairly short list of ingredients: Carbonated waterSugar (which can be sucrose or high-fructose corn syrup)CaffeinePhosphoric acid v. caramel (E150d)Natural flavorings (which include coca leaf extract) The purpose of the carbonated water and sugar is obvious, but you may be unaware caramel coloring is also an important flavoring agent... well, unless you ever tried the clear versions of Coke or Pepsi. There's a good reason those never became popular. Caramel color is a soluble food coloring that is prepared by heat treating carbohydrates. The golden or brown liquid retains a bitter taste and burnt sugar odor. The caffeine is a stimulant, but also contributes a characteristic bitter flavor to the cola. The secret formula of the additional flavorings is known to two executives at Coca-Cola. The original copy of the formula is kept in Atlanta in the SunTrust Bank's vault.